Often people consider stormwater to be a waste product that must be disposed of as quickly as possible. Water runs off our driveways, lawns, streets and rooftops into storm drains installed along the edge of roads.  In newer subdivisions and urban areas these drains often pipe the water to a detention pond.  From there, the water is piped to a local waterway, released at a specified rate. 

We need to shift our approach to treat water as a resource and consider practices that use stormwater for beautification, irrigation, groundwater recharge, and/or wildlife habitat, before sending it away from our land.  One of the easiest ways to treat water as a resource is to work with the natural hydrology of a property. Many stormwater best management practices aim to reduce site runoff by evaporation, infiltration, detention, and retention. This approach can reduce infrastructure costs (pipes and sewers, for example). Infiltration systems (which include retention basins) work to soak water into the ground, providing the following benefits: recharging groundwater, filtering pollutants out of stormwater, and irrigating plants. Detention basins are designed to hold water, seeking to release stormwater into our local waterways over an extended period of time rather than a fast (and large) flush of water when it rains or snows.

Reducing stormwater does not have to be complicated or involve prefabricated structural elements. Projects at all scales can be designed using just a handful of principles and techniques.  Here are some resources to help you solve common questions or concerns.  You may also be wondering if BMPs are present anywhere in the watershed.  Click here to learn about various BMPs in use in the watershed.  But please don’t limit your use of BMPs to these examples.  Use other BMPs to further benefit your community and the watershed.

Stormwater management is a factor in all construction projects. It becomes more difficult (and sometimes more costly too) if stormwater is considered at the end of a proposal/project.  Look to sustainable stormwater management practices to see if they can provide all or part of the solution for specific stormwater management requirements (or issues).  Opportunities and solutions should be discussed throughout the review process of a development, equal in weight to aspects that commonly are the focus of decision makers such as roadway locations, lot sizes, architectural standards, etc.  These discussions should cover BMP options, costs and benefits, maintenance concerns, as well as other opportunities and issues.  Local decision makers and staff must understand how water quality and quantity is being addressed in each project they review and how other decisions they make during the review process impact the ability to implement BMPs to improve and protect water quality and quantity.  Failure to consider stormwater early in the process often leads to missed opportunities.

Click here for a link to tools to help consider urban stormwater impacts.




Urban Best Management Practices (BMPs) are structural, vegetative, or managerial approaches designed to reduce stormwater runoff volume, maximize natural groundwater recharge, and treat, prevent, or reduce degradation of water quality due to stormwater runoff.